By Aymen Salman, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

As the impact of the health and economic crisis ravages, the world start-ups are trying to overcome the economic difficulties they face; these projects face an existential threat that has damaged many companies around the world.

Despite the pessimistic circumstances, we can find many start-ups trying to adapt to the new reality by opening up to new activities or providing new services.

One of those projects is Science Camp (The Iraqi Maker Space), which is the Iraqi version of the Global Maker Movement. The maker space is a space and community of “makers” that provides an optimum environment for tech-innovation and entrepreneurship.

Science Camp was founded in 2013 by Nawres Arif in Basra, to recreate Iraqi society from technological, economic and cultural aspects. Science Camp’s community consists of innovators working in different fields.

The infrastructure and the friendly maker culture has made Science Camp, a unique space for innovators and “out of the box thinkers” to share new ideas freely and test it practically. It’s the first and only Iraqi Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory) 1 on the global Fab Labs map. Since the first wave of COVID-19 that hit Iraq, the Science Camp team started to think of how to use their makerspace to support the Iraqi health sector by keeping up with the needs of those at the frontline.

This assistance has come in the form of producing, designing, testing, and distributing more than 10,000 face shields freely for medical staff in Basra and other 6 cities in Iraq. They have also supported locals making more than 17,000 face shields in Tikrit in collaboration with Tikrit University. They have also shared their designs with 6 countries until now.

In addition, the team at Science Camp in an attempt to maintain jobs in the local private sector (particularly local water factories), Science Camp has successfully 3D-printed spare parts to be used in the local water factories as a replacement for the imported parts, which are unavailable because of supply chain difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the meantime, they are reverse engineering those parts and using the maker movement’s digital fabrication & 3D printing.

Science Camp has given everyone a great example of how to adapt to quick changes, and how to turn obstacles into opportunities. With their efforts and ambition, they definitely will play a tremendous role in empowering the youth of Basra.

More here: https://www.facebook.com/Iraqimakerspace%20%20/

By Ali Al-Makhzomy, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Five One Labs recently hosted an online Start-up Showcase to celebrate the graduation of their first-ever Arabic incubator program in c.

Over 90 attendees joined the event from Iraq, Germany, USA and other places.

Ten of the entrepreneurs gave brief overviews of their businesses, and then answered audience questions. At the end of the event, Five One Labs announced that three startups would receive seed funding:

  1. Al-Ruaa for CNC, a company providing services, workshops, maintenance, installation and providing spare parts for the CNC machines, came in first place and won $15,000;
  2. For second place, EcoLift, a company providing an alternative power system (potential energy recovery system) to power elevators instead of using electricity, was awarded $10,000;
  3. And finally, Mosul Solar, a company providing and installing solar cells for houses, was awarded $5000.

By Aymen Salman, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

During this worldwide pandemic, Entrepreneurs have to face a new reality. Whether a vaccine or a cure will be found for this virus or won’t, we are hearing a lot of voices about the world and ecosystem after COVID-19.

Considering the fact that it’s the right time to think about how the entrepreneurship world be like, The Station held a broadcast within the frame of “YANHAD” programme that The Station is implementing with Expertise France, and funded by EU and French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (CDCS).

In this live broadcast, our guests were Mr. Dhafir Hasan, business Innovation and Behavioral Change – Consultant & Trainer; and Mr. Adnan Addioui, a businessman, thinker, and founder of Moroccan CISE. The moderator of this broadcast was Mr. Ammar Al-Khatib, The Executive Director of The Station.

Starting with the definition of “Entrepreneurship“, where Dhafir gave the real mean of entrepreneurship, describing how you can be creative in business and how you can add new components and services, He also highlighted that entrepreneurship has a high risk and that’s what marks the key difference between SMEs and entrepreneurial projects; he also discussed other differences such as the possibility to expand, and the scalability that distinguishes entrepreneurship.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely put a huge amount of pressure on the Startups in Iraq, and from what we have heard over the last 3 months from our entrepreneurs’ friends, they’re confused. However, the most common comment that we agree with, is that startups should invest this time to re-plan their business and review their business plan, and identify solutions on how to overcome this catastrophe.

The world will be different after Corona, we have already seen how online activities gathered an enormous amount of publicity, and Dhafir advised all businesses to consider online sales, advertisement and marketing. There are some businesses that didn’t stop operating during this crisis and they have made good profits, especially web-developers, tech-businesses and online education.

One of the main challenges the Iraqi entrepreneurs facing is the mentality of investors in Iraq and their unwillingness to invest in startups. Ammar asked if COVID-19 will motivate those investors to invest more in Startup companies. Dhafir replied, that this will mostly depend on how many successful stories will make it through this crisis, this will be the motivator for investors.

To understand what actually has changed during this pandemic, we asked Adnan, and he said that on the governmental level, we saw how all governmental institutions saw the importance of distance learning, online payments and online shopping, also it highlights the urgent need to diversify sources of income. In the meantime, he advised the entrepreneurs to think about how to launch new services, to see what issues their community faces to work on solving them through their projects.

This time is a great opportunity to do market research.

To watch the full live broadcast (in Arabic), please follow the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/thestationiq/videos/273413730376648/

By Aymen Salman, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

During this worldwide pandemic, Entrepreneurs have to face a new reality. Whether a vaccine or a cure will be found for this virus or won’t, we are hearing a lot of voices about the world and ecosystem after COVID-19.

Considering the fact that it’s the right time to think about how the entrepreneurship world be like, The Station held a broadcast within the frame of “YANHAD” programme that The Station is implementing with Expertise France, and funded by EU and French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (CDCS).

In this live broadcast, our guests were Mr. Dhafir Hasan, business Innovation and Behavioral Change – Consultant & Trainer; and Mr. Adnan Addioui, a businessman, thinker, and founder of Moroccan CISE. The moderator of this broadcast was Mr. Ammar Al-Khatib, The Executive Director of The Station.

Starting with the definition of “Entrepreneurship“, where Dhafir gave the real mean of entrepreneurship, describing how you can be creative in business and how you can add new components and services, He also highlighted that entrepreneurship has a high risk and that’s what marks the key difference between SMEs and entrepreneurial projects; he also discussed other differences such as the possibility to expand, and the scalability that distinguishes entrepreneurship.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely put a huge amount of pressure on the Startups in Iraq, and from what we have heard over the last 3 months from our entrepreneurs’ friends, they’re confused. However, the most common comment that we agree with, is that startups should invest this time to re-plan their business and review their business plan, and identify solutions on how to overcome this catastrophe.

The world will be different after Corona, we have already seen how online activities gathered an enormous amount of publicity, and Dhafir advised all businesses to consider online sales, advertisement and marketing. There are some businesses that didn’t stop operating during this crisis and they have made good profits, especially web-developers, tech-businesses and online education.

One of the main challenges the Iraqi entrepreneurs facing is the mentality of investors in Iraq and their unwillingness to invest in startups. Ammar asked if COVID-19 will motivate those investors to invest more in Startup companies. Dhafir replied, that this will mostly depend on how many successful stories will make it through this crisis, this will be the motivator for investors.

To understand what actually has changed during this pandemic, we asked Adnan, and he said that on the governmental level, we saw how all governmental institutions saw the importance of distance learning, online payments and online shopping, also it highlights the urgent need to diversify sources of income. In the meantime, he advised the entrepreneurs to think about how to launch new services, to see what issues their community faces to work on solving them through their projects.

This time is a great opportunity to do market research.

To watch the full live broadcast (in Arabic), please follow the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/thestationiq/videos/273413730376648/

KAPITA has compiled a study about the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The research aims to provide insights and recommendations to tackle the challenges and opportunities that currently face the various segments of the Iraqi market. This will aid governmental organizations and authorities in devising effective policies to make a faster economic recovery.

Our team studied the magnitude of the current economic crisis resulting from plummeting oil prices and the preventive measures taken against the virus. The research surveyed over 500 people from various professional backgrounds such as public and private sector employees and business owners. Also the research includes insights from experts from a range of fields such as finance, economy, construction and business development.

The study discusses attitudes towards the financial situation and the extent of the impact on different sectors such as, Energy sector, Travel sector, E-commerce, Banking system etc.

Here are some key highlights from the study ‘Surviving the COVID-19 Crisis: Preliminary Findings of the Economic Impact on Iraq“:

  • More than 30% of respondents had their salaries cut-off and over 25% were laid off, stopped working or closed their businesses.
  • Over 27% of the respondents said that their savings would last between 2-4 weeks.
  • Public sector employees are considered to be in a better financial position while a heavier toll was inflicted on private sector employees.
  • Over 40% of employers believe that 1-3 months will be needed to recover from the crisis and 50% of employers believe that zero interest loans could help in a faster recovery.
  • 90% of e-commerce and delivery services were paralyzed due to the curfew imposed.
  • Around 70 private bank activities have been limited due to government debt, and shortage in liquidity affecting revenue, deposits, and profits.

KAPITA’s research team deeply thanks and appreciates its partners who majorly contributed to the completion of this study. We sincerely thank Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for being an outstanding enabler for us, Iraqi Innovation Alliance (IIA) for their contribution in data collection and Iraq Business News (IBN) for being our media partner.

We would like to thank all the people who filled out the survey and contributed to the shaping of this study to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Iraq’s economy.

KAPITA’s research team would like to express its deep gratitude to the interviewees for their help in making this research possible (The following order is the order of the interviews):

  1. Ammar Al-Khatib, Executive Director of The Station
  2. Anas Morshed, Economics Blogger & Business Development Consultant
  3. Mahmoud Al-Daghir, Former Director General of Financial Operations and Debt Management, Central Bank of Iraq (CBI)
  4. Samir Al-Nosery, Banking & Economics Consultant
  5. Tamara Hussein, Head of Traders at Rabee Securities
  6. Omar Salam, Secretary-General of Engineers Syndicate
  7. Abdul Ghani Al-Hassani, Financial Expert & Investment Manager at GroFin
  8. Ayser Jabbar, Media manager of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI)
  9. Hyder Zahid, Financial Advisor at PMO
  10. Ali Sabeh, President of the Iraqi Federation of Industries
  11. Hamid Ridha, Owner and CEO of Royal Nuts Company.
  12. Mustafa Sirri, Business Environment and Policy Development Advisor in the PSD project of GIZ
  13. Zuhair Sabri, Secretary-General of the Iraqi Contractors Federation
  14. Ahmed Tabaqchali, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS)
  15. Alaa Jassim, Vice President of Earthlink

Please click here to download the full report.

A group of organizations supporting start-ups in Iraq have joined forces to create the Iraqi Innovation Alliance (IIA).

The initiative, which includes Fikra Space, Kapita, The Station, 51Labs, Basra Science Camp, and Re:Coded, aims to empower and support technology and entrepreneurship communities around the country.

The process to create its brand identity was led by CrazyTown X Solo Creative Studio, which worked together with the alliance members to present an identity that interprets the values of the alliance and its core functions.

(Source: IIA)

Seedstars World, the largest seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, hosted its Iraq round this Friday, at The Station, where 8 selected startups were invited to present their companies in front of the local jury panel.

The local winners were chosen for their innovative sustainable solutions on their different fields. The 1st winner of the competition was IOT Kids,  an online platform teaching kids how to code using scratch and also direct courses in certain private schools. IOT Kids will go on to represent Iraq at Seedstars Regional Summit.

In second place went to Tabib Baghdad, an online booking platform that connects doctors with patients.

Third place was taken by Ur Transport, a revolutionary airboat eco friendly design which will serve as the major future infrastructure for rivers.

After a careful screening and training on Day 1, the Seedstars team shortlisted 8 of the best seed-stage startups in Iraq who pitched on August 2 for the opportunity to compete at the Seedstars Summit, that annually takes place in Switzerland. The list of the Jury members will included Ali Hili, Youth and Entrepreneurship at Zain Iraq, Bassem Abdel Hadi Hassan, Spokesperson for the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Noor Alhandal, Chairman at Ashur International Bank, Khaled Alabadi, Project Manager at GE, Dhafer Hasan, Programme Analyst at UNDP and Anas Al-Chalabi, Business Development Manager at Social n’ Tech

A lot of partners have supported Seedstars at making this event happen. The Main Partners of the Event are Central Bank of Iraq continue to position themselves as great believers in the impact of entrepreneurship. The Local Partners of the event are The Station and Social N’ Tech . Further support is provided by Careem, one of the regions most successful startups, as Entrepreneurship Partners.

In order to provide local entrepreneurs with this opportunity and aiming to deliver the best possible event, Seedstars closely worked with Mohammad Salah, who is representing the initiative throughout the year. “As the Seedstars ambassadors in Baghdad, we’re more than proud to have hosted the competition in Iraq; This event was a massive networking and funding opportunity to the finalists. Bringing Seedstars to Iraq will open the door for other global incubators, accelerators and competitions by encouraging them to expand to Iraq. we are here to make a difference, to create opportunities and give exposure to the ecosystem” explains Mohamad Salah , Managing Director at Social N Tech.

Mira Charkawi, Community Events Manager at Seedstars also said:

“At Seedstars, we believe talent and good ideas are everywhere. We see ourselves as a platform connecting investors to the next generation of startup entrepreneurs in places where normally people wouldn’t think startup ecosystem have such traction, growth and buzz. We are very excited to have been in Baghdad, highlighting such a bustling entrepreneurship ecosystem and we are here to witness the reality”.

Continuing on its world MENA tour, Seedstars World’s next stop is in Cairo taking place at Seedstars Seedspace on the 21&22 of August. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market. Startups are invited to apply on the above mentioned websites.

(Source: Seedstars)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held Iraq’s first International Tech Conference in Baghdad at the Babylon Rotana Baghdad Hotel on 30 April, hosting government ministers, private industry, entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives from the leading UK and Iraq Tech companies.

The purpose of the Conference was to drive confidence, investment and awareness of the power of the new tech economy and how it can benefit Iraq.

The event – Iraq Tech Conference – was led by Ashley Goodall, IBBC’s Marketing Adviser. Keynote addresses were given by H.E. Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission and Mr Ashraf Al Dahan, Chairman of the CMC Board of Commissioners.

The agenda for the day comprised four panels: Consumer Tech panel, E-Government Panel, Business Fintech and a Consumer Fintech Panel.

Fintech in particular is making strides forward with the blessing of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), as Mr Waleed Eidi, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank, explained and encouraged the adoption of steps to include Women, those excluded from banking and the digital economy and young people.

The CBI is being ambitious in encouraging banks and financial institutions to modernise and offer new ways to distribute the flow of funds for investment and those who need it. This will also have a big impact on the overall economy and growth.

Ahmed Elkady of EY echoed the importance of Fintech as he led the Consumer FinTech Panel discussion onto technical infrastructure and what needs to happen to grow the opportunity for financial transactions. He was ably supported by National Bank of Iraq’s Eyad Mahmoud and Roger Abboud of Arab Payment Systems – who are modernising banking transactions – and Douglas Way of Almaseer Insurance – who are enabling business to reduce risks and transact insurance products rapidly and scalably.

The conference also embodied eight presentations:

  • “How technology is driving the business and consumer world in Iraq and Internationally” by Zain Iraq;
  • Online Literacy” by Dr Victoria Lindsay, Country Director – Iraq for the British Council;
  • Automating & digitising BP and Iraq” by Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager-Iraq for BP;
  • Restrata Product Announcement” by Botan Osman, CEO for Restrata;
  • “Five One Labs” by Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs;
  • Blockchain and AI – The Future Talk” by Muhana Almrahleh, Director – Head of Information Technology Advisory for KPMG (Jordan); and,
  • How Re:Coded are Training the Next Generation of Technology Leaders in Iraq” by Zahra Shah, Country Manager-Iraq for Re:Coded.

Attendees were able to enjoy one-to-one meetings and conversations.

As part of the Tech Conference on April 30, IBBC hosted an Evening Reception for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups at The Station, Baghdad, the evening prior on 29 April. The evening, planned in partnership with Iraq Tech Ventures and Arabnet, showcased the growing tech community in the country and gave an outstanding platform for some of the leading start-ups and entrepreneurs in a more informal setting.

The participating start-ups pitched their business in 5 minutes to a panel of seven judges composed by: Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group and Founder of Iraq Tech Ventures; Hal Miran, CEO of MSelect and Founder of Bite.Tech and TechHub; Richard Greer, Venture Capital Investor in Asia, Middle East, & UK and Philanthropist in Northern Iraq; Zahra Shah, Iraq Country Manager for Re:Coded; Ali Ismail, Co-Founder of Fikraspace and Co-Founder & Partner of Solo Creative Studio; Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs and Maryam Allami, Advisor for Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Through this first international Tech Conference in Iraq, IBBC aims to provide a foundation, a platform and focus for Tech in Iraq and give inspiration and confidence to those building a modern Iraq.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

To contact IBBC for Interviews, registration and sponsorship please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

By Alexander Southworth, Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

IBBC Long Read: The Station – Iraq’s the first combined workspace in Iraq, providing tech and artistic entrepreneurs with a communal space and resources to develop and expand business projects.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) recently completed a mission to Baghdad, where Christophe Michels, Managing Director and Eng. Rasmi Al-Jabri Deputy Chairman, visited The Station, Iraq’s first combined workspace in Iraq, providing a hub for artistic & tech entrepreneurs to develop and expand business projects.

Located in Baghdad, The Station’s vision is to create a healthy work environment by providing entrepreneurs with experiences to develop and expand their projects. The institution aims to facilitate this entrepreneurial spirit by providing the space, support and resources to help build and develop ideas and implement them on the ground in a society which is heavily weighted towards public sector activity.

While Iraq is a middle-income country, it faces significant challenges more commonly found in low income nations. Such as a dependence on a primary commodity (crude oil), which generates 95 percent of its budget* while only employing 1 percent of the available labour force and a heavily weighted public sector, which accounts for around 60% of employment, with the government providing 40% of jobs.

This is why The Station is such an exciting initiative, it is a boost to a small but growing number of young Iraqis willing to engage and develop the private sector in Iraq. Iraq has one of the most youthful demographics in the world, with nearly half its population being less than 21 years of age.

Young Iraqis, faced either with closed avenues to public sector employment or who do not wish to conform to a status quo which does not reward entrepreneurial spirit, can find at The Station an environment which does just the opposite, facilitating a hub of ideas and resources beneficial to inspiring entrepreneurs.

Inspiration behind the Idea

The founders visited various innovative hubs/co-working spaces around the Middle East and were inspired by the activities and the economic/social impact they were having in those specific communities. They sought to replicate these spaces, but in a way that is relevant to Iraq. The co-founders are entrepreneurs themselves, and they understand the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs and small businesses. Therefore, they decided to create a space with all the facilities they believe are needed to help such an environment thrive. The idea of The Station was not merely to create a physical space but a cultural one.

Haider Hamzoz Media Director at the Station explained that: “Young people in Iraq as a whole aspire to work in the public sector upon graduation, because there have been no viable options other than that. It is not recommended to take huge risks such as investing in a business venture (unless it is a restaurant or barber shop) because there is no track record of such activities in Iraq – at least not in the last two decades. However, start-ups require risk-taking and we want to build a community of risk takers and innovators.”

Funding & Support

The Station was founded by Mujahed al-Waisi, Muhanned Munjed and Ali Tarik. The Station has received funds from The Al-Handhal International Group and is supported by the Iraqi Private Banks League, Earthlink and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Baghdad.

Future Direction

The Station is working towards starting an incubator program, to empower the ecosystem in Iraq. It also aims to establish and/or partner with venture capitals to fund and invest in startups, businesses and entrepreneurs. The Station also wants to be a driving force in policy advocacy through international agencies and diplomatic entities to empower the Iraqi private sector, and the role of the youth within this sector.

The Station is currently establishing its own Research and Development Centre that will offer a myriad of services, such as mentorship and policy advocacy. Activities will revolve around engaging the youth in discussions and research, not only with the private sector but with the public sector itself, essentially bridging the gap between the government and its citizens, and this is a development that ought to be celebrated because it will empower not only the Iraqi economy but its democratic institution. The Station is seeking to expand to Mosul in the next two years and has plans to develop a Station in the South and on the other side (Al-Karkh) of Baghdad. This hugely positive development

Haider Hamzoz Media Director at the Station says: “With the erosion of ISIS, the youth are in need of a healthy environment more than ever to feed their self-development and we are building a foundation that will allow them to become world-thinkers, innovators and successful role-models for the new generation to come.”

For more information please visit: http://the-station.iq/ or contact info@the-station.iq

*Source: UNIraq  http://www.uniraq.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=941&Itemid=472&lang=en

(Source: IBBC)